Chapter 135

               Camille’s movements were nearly soundless, her small body finally working to her advantage as she padded along the hallway in her bare feet. Briefly, she’d considered keeping her boots on, since she was unlikely to touch someone with her feet anyway and broken glass or stepped on toes were a serious hazard in a situation like this. Ultimately she’d decided to risk it, both for the benefit of silent movement and because “unlikely” wasn’t the same as “impossible.” Smashed feet she could heal, but a missed opportunity was gone forever.

                Without any sort of detection abilities, Camille was flying blind as she treaded carefully along. At every sound her heart jumped a few inches closer to her throat, only to sink down again when no threat materialized. Moving her hand slowly, she pulled out one of the throwing knives from the sheath on her arm. There was zero chance that she could replicate Chad’s strategy of smashing the lights, she had better odds of smashing through the roof like Roy. Still, she did have a bit of a longshot idea, if it came down to it.

                A corner loomed on the horizon, and Camille approached it at the achingly slow speed of bureaucracy. Using the reflective surface of the small knife, she angled it and peeked into the new territory. Sure enough, there was a Sim only a few feet ahead of her, yellow light blazing in its chest. The upside was that it didn’t seem aware of her presence, but the downside was that it was facing her direction and showed no signs of turning.

                Pulling back the blade, Camille weighed her options. She could try and find another route and sneak around behind it, but that risked both time and the possibility of encountering another Sim. If she took it out here and now then it was gone, one less opponent to worry about. If she tried to leave it for later then she might accidently raise a ruckus and see it come to her. Her best bet was to handle the Sim now. Without the element of surprise and no clue what its power was, she’d need to find a way to close the gap.

                In the blade’s reflection, a curiously wicked smile could be seen on Camille’s face. She hadn’t managed to keep her true power a secret for so long without being good at subterfuge. After all the matches she’d watched so far, she’d learned one very important detail: they didn’t know the Sims powers, but it was clear the Sims didn’t know theirs either.

                Camille dashed around the corner, running at full speed toward the Sim in front of her. It was wearing a tank-top and jeans, leaving its large arms entirely exposed. It registered her presence and prepared to attack, but Camille struck before it got the chance.

                “Explosion Blade!” Camille said, keeping her voice loud enough to be heard but soft enough that she hoped it wouldn’t echo. As she spoke, she hurled the throwing knife in her hand at her opponent. She might not be able to take out a target as small as a light, but a six-foot tall robot was well within her skills. The knife hurtled forward, right on target, until the Sin leapt aside. It wasn’t a giant amount of movement, but it was enough to let a small, springing girl draw in a little too close.

                The Sim felt a hand wrap around its forearm as the blade clattered harmlessly off the wall behind it. There was no explosion of any sort, and it stared down at the woman clutching its arm in temporary confusion.

                “Gotcha,” Camille said, giving it a pleasant grin. At that, the Sim powered down, and Camille had one less opponent on the field.

*             *             *

                “Did she just fucking bluff a robot?” Roy said, mouth half-agape as he watched Camille sneak away in search of a new target. She did pause to pick up her throwing knife though, clearly intent on using that trick again if needed.

                “It makes sense,” Alice said. “They went after Vince with electrical attacks because they didn’t know he could absorb them, at least at first. Sims kept trying to punch you even though you were tougher than all of them. They don’t seem to know what our abilities are.”

                “Hmm. I suspect we will not have it so easy on future exams,” Chad speculated. He paused as, on screen, Camille managed to sneak up on the next Sim and power it down without a fight. “In the real world, Heroes are well-known and almost certainly tracked by criminals. This is the sort of advantage we would only have at the beginning of our careers.”

                “I wonder if they did it on purpose, so that anyone who doesn’t realize that will be caught by surprise next time we take a test like this,” Vince said. He’d begun to understand that being in a constant state of uncertainty was evidently part of their training. After seeing the sort of situations they’d be facing, he could appreciate his teachers for building that into the curriculum.

                “Wouldn’t surprise me one bit,” Roy said. His eyes followed the small Super as she came upon a third guard. This one managed to get a punch off, but Camille grabbed onto its fist and forced it to power down. She seemed to be having trouble breathing when she stood back up, however after a few moments all signs of the injury vanished. “That healing ability comes in damn handy.”

                “It does,” Mary said. “I just hope it will be enough.”

                The others wordlessly agreed with her, as they watched Camille meander through the halls. She didn’t know it yet, but she wouldn’t find any more Sims filling the guard role. In every match the numbers were randomized, some in the halls while others waited in a central room. For those with no stealth, like Roy, having a high number of concentrated enemies was a good thing, but to the physically frail ones it presented a large challenge. In that, Camille had gotten unlucky.

                She had six Sims all standing around in a room, waiting to beat the hell out of her.